Tale Of Two Points

Submitted by Brian on February 12th, 2014 at 12:41 PM

2/11/2014 – Michigan 70, OSU 60 – 18-6, 10-2 Big Ten

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I'ma fall in this basket if that's what it takes

Early, it was a layup line for Ohio State. A combination of transition off turnovers and long misses and plain old WHAT ARE YOU DOING defense led to a stretch where OSU made seven consecutive shots, because all of those shots came within a foot of the rim. For its part, Michigan was stuck outside, with the now-standard point-guard-on Stauskas gambit making it difficult for Michigan to initiate offense through their best player.

Aside from the inexplicable avalanche of offensive rebounds, a sense of déjà vu prevailed. This was the same game Trey Burke's Michigan team had at OSU, the same feeling of being overwhelmed by a road game they had just experienced at Indiana and Iowa. Craft or a Craft-like substance was stuck to Michigan's engine, gumming up the works.

Dan Dakich rhapsodized; ESPN kept showing one particular defensive sequence where Stauskas got Walton a wide open corner three that GRIII rebounded and missed a putback on. What would ESPN have shown had either of those really good shots gone in? The same thing. The Aaron Craft narrative does not bow to things like reality. He is a winner, and if Ohio State does not win, they still win, because anything else is impossible.

And then Michigan was down four at halftime. Four is a lot less than 20. Four is doable.

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In the second half, Craft stayed stuck to Stauskas. Michigan came unstuck from Craft. Stauskas managed to find snatches of space in which to rise up or attack the basket on his way to 15 efficient points but was largely removed from generating shots for his teammates. Walton became a free-range annoyance to anyone who happened to have the ball.

Except Craft. Walton played free safety against Craft. If provided a mildly psychoactive taco, Craft would have seen Walton as a giant middle finger extended in the general direction of his offensive competence. A very small, very distant middle finger. And he still would have passed the ball to someone on the perimeter.

On the other end, Walton did a thing that was pretty good, and then a thing that reminded you of you-know-who, and then another couple things and then you had to say it even if you were afraid to do so.

The word "Burke" was uttered, in comparison instead of deficit, when Walton took a mishandled dribble and exploded to the basket for an and-one against a seven foot shotblocker. He extended his body past applicable limits and crashed to the floor after. It had to be mentioned. It was like seeing a ghost.

This is not even that shot.

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This is an entirely different shot that is the same shot that is Burke's shot.

Walton's stats were incomprehensible in relation to his play. When he scored near the end of the first half and up flashed his line—two points, four rebounds—it felt wrong. The narrative of his play was at odds with the blunt numbers, and even afterwards he still has an impossible-seeming 2/8 in the two-point column. The other stats, however, back him up: 13 on 13 shot equivalents, ten(!) rebounds, six(!) assists, one turnover. OSU has the fourth-best defense in the country; Derrick Walton drove the bus against them in the second half as Michigan put up 70 in a 59 possession game.

For his part, Craft finally launched his uncontested three, which was an airball. A gritty winner of an airball, but an airball. Dakich started looking for another mancrush—literally, on air, this is a thing that literally happened on air.

As Michigan surged, you remembered the other bit of that Ohio State game last year: a 20-minute trudge to tie the game before a final slump finally condemned them. This trudge was from ten back, but it was no less of a grind against pretty much the same team that ground Michigan's offense into paste a year ago.

This Michigan team doesn't have a Burke, but when there's one Aaron Craft maybe it's better to have three mini-Burkes thrusting their rapiers wherever the armor is weakest.

Bullets

Hello. Michigan has now won at OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin. In the same year and everything. They also have a road win over (probably) tourney-bound Minnesota, and are very likely to end the conference season at least 6-3 away from Crisler. 7-2 is a distinct possibility. Yowza.

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This probably missed. Michigan now knows the feeling. [Fuller]

Parade of missed bunnies. Here's a sentence I never thought I'd say: that game reminded me of the Michigan-Arizona game, with Michigan in the role of offensive rebound machine that can't convert any of the resulting layups. Michigan had 14(!), most of them in the first half, and after that frustrating 20 minutes they only led OSU 7-4 in second chance points.

This feels like a team-wide problem but it was mostly a Robinson thing. (Morgan did miss a first-half putback but that was his only miss of the night.) On the one hand, Robinson flashed to the bucket without a box-out on several possessions and created extra shots. On the other, those extra shots did not go in the basket. They kept flashing huge disparities in FG% in the first half and wondering how Michigan was in the game; those disparities would have been significantly less huge if Michigan was just getting one look at the basket.

Haunted. Now add in the three point play caused when Caris momentarily lost his mind and 'saved' a ball going out off of OSU. This is why large sections of the first half were agonizing about a score that should have been near even.

But welcome back, super-efficient two-headed center. As mentioned, Morgan missed one shot. Horford also missed one, a 15-foot jumper on which he was left open. Both guys used clever moves to get short-range buckets on route to a 7/9 night on which Michigan dominated the boards.

Box score change request. Spike Albrecht only got four minutes, picking up another turnover and missing one shot. HOWEVA, that missed shot should be credited as an assist, as he drove into the lane and put it so high off the window that there was little chance of a bucket. He did this because Amir Williams tries to block everything. Amir Williams tried to block it; the ball went directly to Morgan on the weakside; Morgan actually made the layup.

Amir Williams. There's no nice way to say this. He is not all there. OSU has yanked him from long stretches of games for defensive incompetence; in this one Michigan's two centers picked up seven OREBs despite being much smaller and less athletic. He also committed one of history's worst fouls when he ran over Walton with the shot clock expiring on a critical possession down the stretch.

I remember Williams getting yanked from the M-OSU game at Crisler two years ago after some comically bad defensive possessions, and while he has improved somewhat from that point he remains a massively frustrating guy prone to fits of ain't-care. I know this because I was rooting for OSU in their game against MSU and built up large reserves of loathing for his game.

Irvin up and down. Irvin extended OSU the same favor Williams did at the end of the first half by fouling LaQuinton Ross on a three. It wasn't nearly as bad. He's a freshman, not a junior, and that was a quality look from the corner instead of a desperation jack from about five feet behind the line. It was still bad. Irvin also added in a trio of errors on possessions down the stretch:

  • fouling Ross as he initiated a desperation drive to the basket with three seconds on the shot clock
  • turning the ball over on a sloppy perimeter pass
  • getting burned by Ross on the next offensive possession for a layup and an OREB that turned into a three point paly

The refs credited the first foul to Horford, somehow, but it was Irvin who made the contact, and Stauskas is listed as the guy with the TO in the box score. I don't think I'm remembering it wrong, because at the time everyone in the room was moaning at Irvin.

[UPDATE: I remembered this wrong. The bail out foul was in the first half, as was the ensuing TO, and then the third error was the foul on the three. Irvin did get a TO from Ross in between these issues.]

So there's that. But Irvin also had ten points on five shot equivalents. This is a much shorter section than all the things that went wrong but it's equally as important. That is two points per Irvin-initiated shot. That is good, Adam Jacobi. His threes were needed shots in the arm when Michigan was getting wobbly; he's nearing Stauskas for team three point champion. Achievement unlocked: Modern-Day Microwave.

Wait.

Wait. Should we call him "The Induction Burner"? Or is that stupid?

Yeah, okay, it's stupid.

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This three was slightly lower pressure. [Fuller]

Glenn is so broken don't take that oh OKAY. Another miserable game for Robinson, but this one was capped off by a critical corner three in crunch time that pushed Michigan out to 7 and was the beginning of the end. He was 2/9 on his other shots, many of them point-blank. At points it was like his God-given athleticism was just an elaborate way to troll Michigan fans.

But at least it seems like the message has been received. Michigan posted him up for one of his buckets. Robinson eschewed dribbles for the most part (0 A, 0 TO) and went hard on the offensive glass. Even if it didn't pay off in this particular game, more 4 OREB performances from Robinson will get him into that "quiet 14 points" range he was so effective in last year.

His defense was also notably better on Ross than alternatives. Irvin was inserted for a run in the second half right after a couple of plays around the rim on which Robinson did not convert, and there were a couple of possessions on which it was clear that Ross could just back Irvin down inside the paint whenever he wanted. GRIII is much more sturdy.

Hurdle cleared. Kenpom had Michigan with a 33% chance to pull that game off. The algorithm has been giving OSU a bit of the Wisconsin treatment this year after the Buckeyes stormed through an undefeated nonconference schedule with no good teams on it. Despite being .500 in the league they're still in the top 20. Even if they're overrated by computers, that was a road game against a 19-5 team, Michigan's last against anything resembling a tourney outfit.

Their only trips remaining are to Purdue and Illinois, collectively 7-15 in the league. Michigan is now better than 70% to win every game left on the schedule save MSU, a 65% proposition, and is projected to finish a boggling 15-3 in the league.

Craftbow. I don't hate Aaron Craft and would take him on this Michigan outfit no question even if he is allergic to shots. But man, I hate Aaron Craft. This has nothing to do with anything other than the Tebow effect wherein announcers praise a player so much that you're just so damned sick of hearing about it.

Dakich is normally my favorite color guy other than Jay Bilas, but hearing him call an OSU game is pure torture. His normally reasonable comments about effort go from getting your hands up on shooters and boxing out to ludicrous flights of fancy wherein he literally says things like "the ball knows" that you have reversed the floor and then goes in. In this game he started the first ten minutes bitching about how Michigan was barely trying, and then had to stare at Michigan ending the game on a dominant run.

Effort is so fetishized by commentators that they'll ignore randomness, confusion, youth, and uncertainty to rail on it. Craft exacerbates that 1000%. It  got so bad that Dakich started going on and on about Horford's huge effort level… on an uncontested dunk. I'm delighted I never have to hear about Craft again. No offense to the man himself.

Creepy balance. To the point about many mini-Burkes instead of one Burke: Michigan played seven guys an appreciable amount of time in this game. Usage: 22, 22, 21, 19, 18, 18, 16. Walton and GRIII are at the top; LeVert is at the bottom.

Comments

543Church

February 12th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

Is the hate for Craft because white  players get over-hyped by the media or is it because white people hate other white people succeeding with a limited skillset because it makes them feel bad about themselves?  The list is long on this honkyhate:  Hurley, Laettner, Parks, Reddick, Tebow, Craft, Eckstein, Rudy....

I'm asking.....for a friend....I don't see race.

mgobaran

February 12th, 2014 at 1:10 PM ^

Reasons I hate Craft

 - His rosey cheeks make him look like he is giving 200% all the time which is bullshit, because you cannot give more than 100% ever. Operating at a level above 100% ends in death every time. He has not died yet.
- He plays for Ohio State.
- He has been a thorn in our side for 4 years
- Every shot he makes is the biggest shot of the game
- Did I mention he plays for Ohio State?

So race has nothing to do with it. Besides maybe the rosey cheeks part.

Seth

February 12th, 2014 at 1:29 PM ^

Not true. Lance Armstrong once gave 102.2% during an uphill leg of the Tour de France, breaking the record of 101.9% set by David Eckstein while legging out a double with the Cardinals.

Aaron Craft does indeed hold the Big Ten record for effort over 40 minutes, at 95.2%.

The record for effort over an entire game is 99.8% by Pete Rose in the second frame of a doubleheader vs. Atlanta on July 26, 1973 (5/5 with 3 SB and a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, plus a robbed home run and two more long put-outs).

Rdog

February 12th, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

I think the hate for Craft is that he is overhyped in every way and in my opinion should be called for about 10 more fouls a game than he is.   I don't hate him for his lack of an offensive game but I think it is annoying how seldom this hugely lacking part of his game is mentioned by announcers, though he is gritty and always gives 100%.

Laettner is hated because he played for Duke and a first round draft pick was wasted on him. 

Personally, I really like Tebow particularly as he seems to have kept his integrity despite playing for Urban Meyer. 

If by saying Rudy you mean the Rudy from Notre Dame, then the reason for hate is the lameness of the story when the real story of Kovacs is what that shoudl have been.

I think we are fine with the other guys.

 

UMgradMSUdad

February 12th, 2014 at 9:48 PM ^

I hadn't even noticed Rudy on the list until you mentioned him. What's to like about a huckster and fraud like him? http://msn.foxsports.com/collegefootball/story/notre-dame-movie-icon-rudy-seems-to-be-latest-college-football-fraud-122011

As to Craft, I really didn't care for him when OSU was winning and people acted like he was indispensible to OSU's success.  Now that OSU needs him to be a complete player because others aren't picking up the slack for him, I no longer dislike him, I almost feel sorry for him.

bronxblue

February 12th, 2014 at 3:15 PM ^

I think the issue is the hype, which probably does have something to do with mostly-white announcers seemingly focusing on certain players, but its not like Craft is lacking in talent.  Same with Tebow, Reddick, Laettner (guy was one of the best college players of his era), etc.  They all had skills that make them good college players.  I don't think it has to do with white hate or anything; I've come to be incredibly annoyed with announcers focusing on guys like Gary Harris, Wiggins, Parker, etc.  

kzooblue2016

February 13th, 2014 at 12:43 AM ^

That was a feature in ESPN the Magazine last year, and I thought it was a ridiculous notion then and I still do now. The writer of that article suggested that white fans saw Craft and went into loathing about their own playing career. This takes away from Craft's ability as a player, because I assume few were even close to Craft's talent level, no matter the amount of effort they put in. 

I hate Craft because he's every guy at the gym with an ugly jumper that somehow makes it, the fact that he is overhyped by the media to the point he does nothing wrong, and he plays for one of the schools I despise most. 

Who knows...throw me on a the couch of a psychologist and maybe we'll find out I hate Craft because he is white, and I could have been his equivalent on Michigan if I had just spent a few more hours in the gym shooting hoops. 

thatsmyjam

February 13th, 2014 at 8:38 AM ^

I actually really liked Craft, to an embarrassing degree, until this year when I realized that Dan Dakitch was all up in it. It's like when you like this boy and then you find out that this really weird person also likes this boy, and you're like - okay, there must be something seriously wrong with this boy for said weirdo to like him as well. And then what does that say about me? It's very complex. 

TheNema

February 12th, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

I know it makes me petty, but I won't ever forgive Bilas for trying to give Beilein a bunch of bad press out of nowhere his first two years here.

Just atrotious behavior. And breath-taking Duke arrogance to think Amaker got some kind of raw deal by getting fired after not taking UM to the tournament in SIX years at the helm.

 

TheNema

February 12th, 2014 at 4:55 PM ^

Sorry, he deserves no credit for that. He held out way too long.

People forget that it was Bilas who just a year ago gave said VCU was going to beat us and that South Dakota State was a tough match-up for us on ESPN's selection show. And did it with his trademark smug smile.

 

mgobmer

February 12th, 2014 at 10:09 PM ^

Bilas is petty. His constant Dukie favoritism is bad enough, but constantly criticizing an undeniably successful coach because he replaced your buddy who did a pretty bad job for a long time? That's petty. And he's so often wrong! His multiple biases have consistently made him wrong. That's the definition of a bad analyst. If he was a journalist he'd have lost his job a long time ago.

jmblue

February 12th, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

Irvin actually does remind me of Vinnie Johnson, aside from being four inches taller.  Both have/had a thick physique, unorthodox shot with a super-high release point (which he can get off against anyone) and the same I'll-shoot-if-they-give-me-an-inch attiude.  

 

Otisthebigdog

February 12th, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

We don't really know how good we got it with this staff. No panic, no screaming at players or refs. Teams shut down our best players and we just have our point guard make them pay. The one consistent theme from the last 3 seasons is great point guard play. I hope we can keep Coach Jordan but some smart team is going to steal him soon.

TIMMMAAY

February 12th, 2014 at 1:27 PM ^

He really is a first rate assistant, and we'll be lucky if we can hang on to him next season. Anything beyond that is gravy, unless he can be convinced into "coach in waiting" status. 

Really, from what I can tell, all of our staff is excellent. Bacari is a very good bigs coach, meyer seems to have a good hold on game theory stuff, and Beilein, well, yeah. 

jmblue

February 12th, 2014 at 1:29 PM ^

I think Bacari Alexander is first in line to get a head job somewhere.  He's the lead assistant.  It wouldn't be shocking if we lost him this offseason.  Jordan, I think, will be here awhile longer - he could possibly become the heir apparent.